”Reindeer Games” is 70-year-old director Frankenheimer’s twisty new thriller starring Affleck, Theron, and Sinise. And there’s a lot riding on it: It’s an important movie for Affleck, 27, who’s learning that the Best Original Screenplay trophy he shares with Matt Damon for 1997’s ”Good Will Hunting” will take him only so far in this town; he still needs to prove he packs enough star power to carry a movie on his own. For Theron, 24, a role in a hit action movie might give her career the boost it needs to reach A-list altitudes. And it’s a big picture for Dimension Films: The eight-year-old Miramax division is hyping the movie with its most lavish and expensive publicity blitz ever.
”Reindeer” certainly sounds commercial enough. An old-fashioned caper with modern-day sex appeal, it has Affleck playing a just-released ex-con who charms his way into Theron’s heart (among other parts) only to get suckered into a Christmas-day casino heist that ends with a pile of dead bodies in Santa suits. It’s got a sublimely sleazy bad guy (”I came up with the longhair look myself,” boasts Sinise), a steamy love scene (”My most explicit,” Theron promises), and a plot filled with more hairpin turns than a car chase from Frankenheimer’s ”Ronin.” BUZZ FACTOR: 8
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